§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £86,580, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1903, for the Salaries and other Expenses of the British Museum, and of the Natural History Museum, including certain Grants in Aid."
§ (2.55) SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
called attention to the question of the Irish gold ornaments acquired by the British Museum. As the case was sub judice he could not enter into the merits, but he would like to point out that a large question was involved. After the British Museum authorities got possession of these ornaments the authority of the Irish law officers of the Crown was invoked. They did not act with 517 indecent haste, for they took two or three years to consider the point, but eventually they came to the conclusion that the ornaments were illegally held by the British Museum. The English law officers had come to the same conclusion. The Crown had made an application for the restoration of those ornaments as Crown property, and representations with the same object in view had also been made by the Treasury, but the British Museum still refused to give them up. Having disregarded the demand of the Crown against the advice of the British and Irish law officers there was no alternative but to go to law, and this course had been taken. Now the British Museum authorities were resisting this demand out of the pockets of the general taxpayer. That seemed to be an extraordinary situation. The taxpayers were to be put to very large legal costs, and the British Museum were to be supported in resisting this demand of the Crown at the expense of the taxpayers. He wished to ask the Treasury representatives on what grounds the costs of the British Museum were to be paid in this case by the State. It could hardly be said that the British Museum was a poverty stricken Corporation, and when they were acting against the advice of the law officers of England and Ireland, and resisting the Government of the country, he could not understand on what ground they could ask the Committee to defray their legal expenses.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
There are no legal expenses under this Vote. They will come under the Vote for the law officers.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
said it was perfectly correct, as stated by the Deputy Chairman, that no legal expenses for the trustees of the British Museum were included in this Vote.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
said the Committee had no information as to what legal expenses were included 518 in that £20, and they were, therefore, quite at liberty to assume that this was the thin end of the wedge for obtaining authority to incur certain additional expenditure upon legal matters. The trial would come on very soon and the costs would have to be paid. As those costs would not be put in the Vote next year, in the public interest they had a right to take the only opportunity they would have of protesting against public money being expended for what they regarded as most improper purposes. He submitted that this item of £20 might be taken to cover certain expenses in connection with the trial now pending. The last report of the trustees was dated the 31st of March, 1900, but judging from the amount of money the British Museum had spent in increasing their collection he did not think there were any grounds for supposing that they were not able to pay their ordinary legal costs. He did not wish it to be thought that he objected to their improving their collection, for as far as expenditure of public money went in regard to the British Museum or any other museum he should be one of the first to assist and to co-operate in any expenditure of money for improving museums and collections of art treasures for he thought it was the best form of expenditure which they could have. He objected to the British Museum enriching their collection at the expense of Ireland, and he thought the trustees should be held liable for any illegal expenses which might be incurred. He was aware that the trustees could not be made liable personally, but when the taxpayers of this country voted £200,000 a year for the purpose of keeping up the British Museum it was a most unreasonable demand to ask them to provide an additional sum for legal expenses. The Treasury ought to realise that in this matter they were trenching upon somewhat dangerous ground, for they were setting up a precedent which they might find very awkward in the future. He wished to know whether the Treasury, under similar circumstances, would act in a similar way if an English or Scotch public body adopted a similar attitude to that which had been taken up by the British Museum. Supposing the National Museum of Scotland 519 desired to get back some valuable trove treasures winch were at present in the British Museum, and went to enormous legal expense endeavouring to recover those articles would the Treasury treat the Scotch Museum in the same way as they were now treating the British Museum? The Scotch Museum under those circumstances would have very much better grounds than the British Museum had, because there would be no bar in the, shape of the English and Scotch law officers. Supposing that the Irish law officers decided that certain meetings in Ireland were illegal, and people attended them and were brought to trial would the Treasury pay their expenses. If this precedent were established they would be bound to pay the expenses of prosecutions against the United Irish League. He did not know how far the Secretary to the Treasury was in a position to answer him but it was a very serious point, and in the interests of fair play in both countries he thought it was a question which ought to be seriously considered, and he hoped the Committee would support him in bringing the question forward.
He would now pass on to one or two other matters. On page 374 of the Estimates there was a note which read—The expenditure out of the Grants included in this Estimate will be subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General; but the unexpended balances (if any) will not be surrendered.He submitted that was a somewhat unusual proceeding. At the end of every year they had the Treasury balances which were supposed to be the amount unexpended of the money voted by Parliament, and he trusted that the same privileges in regard to these balances granted in the case of the British Museum would also be extended to the Scottish and Irish Museums. At the bottom of page 375 there was the following footnote—The Director and Principal Librarian and five keepers of Departments are provided with official residences.He wished to know if in the Dublin and Scottish museum and libraries the same officials were also allowed residences, and if not, why not? He thought they ought to have the same treatment. He noticed on page 376 that there was an 520 item found, in addition to salaries, to attendants and servants for performing special duties. As far as he knew there was no similar provision made in the case of the Dublin Museum, and therefore they were entitled to ask what were those special services. He was glad that they had the opportunity of adding to their salaries in tins way, but he claimed that similar advantages should be extended to Ireland. On page 378 there was an item of £675 for the remuneration of persons not on the museum establishment, and he wished to know who those persons were, and what were the duties for which they obtained this remuneration? He did not think the Museum in Ireland was in a similar position. At the bottom of page 380 there was a footnote which read—As opportunities arise during the re-arrangement of the collections, duplicate specimens are set aside for distribution among the local museums in the United Kingdom and for loans to exhibitions.It was useful to allow museums to exchange specimens, but he did not understand whether the arrangement with the British Museum contemplated an exchange of duplicate specimens or simply disposing of them without any exchange whatever. He wished to know if any of those specimens had gone across the Channel. In regard to the law costs in view of the trial, and the fact that the law officers of both countries were against the British Museum, he did not think it was fair that they should be allowed to indulge in such expenditure at the expense of the country. Therefore, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries and Wages) be reduced by £100,"—(Sir Thos. Esmonde.)
§ (3.26) MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the hon. Baronet had raised a number of points of detail to which he was afraid that he could not give an answer quite so fully as he should like, because he had had no notice of the hon. Baronet's intention of raising them. He was afraid he could not answer all the points raised in the comparisons made between the National Museums in Dublin and Edinburgh and the British Museum as definitely as he should like, but if the hon. Baronet 521 would give him notice he would make inquiries and communicate with him upon the subjects named. The reference he made to persons remunerated who were not on the museum establishment was explained in comparative fullness on the face of the Vote itself. The sum was for assistance required from gentlemen who were nut in the regular employment of the museum, in arranging special catalogues and other books which were required in the museum. The hon. Baronet would readily understand that it was desirable that the museum authorities should have some money provided for the purpose of obtaining assistance outside the ordinary staff of the museum, and arrangements had been made from time to time to procure such assistance in cataloguing and making readily available for the public use the various collections in the museum. He was not personally aware of the kind of arrangement adopted, but he agreed with the hon. Baronet that all collections ought to have every precaution taken for their preservation, and he could not believe that any reasonable precaution had been neglected. He did not complain of the constant comparisons made between the British Museum and the National Museum in Dublin, but perhaps the hon. Baronet would excuse him for saying that there was some inconvenience in discussing the Dublin collection under the Vote for the British Museum. [An HON. MEMBER: Perhaps we shall not get another chance.]
With regard to the alleged unsatisfactory distribution of duplicate specimens, he was certain that any application from the authorities in Dublin would receive the most favourable consideration of the authorities of the British Museum. The number of specimens in any one year was not very large. He had hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, who was a Trustee of the British Museum, would have been present, as, on a previous occasion at any rate, he intended to take the opportunity afforded by this vote to make a statement on behalf of the Trustees of the British Museum, and doubtless he would have done his best to answer the questions which had been put. With regard to the note that unexpended balances would not be surrendered at 522 the end of the year, it should be explained that the old system was that if the Trustees of one of these institutions did not spend the whole of their grant-in-aid in a particular year, they had to surrender the balance to the Exchequer; they were not allowed to accumulate the money. That was obviously a most wasteful, inconvenient, and unsatisfactory regulation. It led to the Trustees buying up to the limit of their grant whatever happened to be in the market, without regard to whether or not it was the most useful, and it prevented them saving money for more expensive purchases, so that when the more expensive articles came into the market they had no reserve upon which to draw, with the result that, unless they could secure it out of the current grant the article was lost to the National Collection. For some years now it had been he practice that it should be within the discretion of the Trustees to spend so much of the grant-in-aid for purchases as they thought fit and to keep the balance and spend it in subsequent years for the same purpose. Balances of any of their ordinary expenditure, were, of course, subject to the ordinary rules of audit.
Then, to come to the question of the Celtic gold ornaments, the hon. Baronet had recognised that any discussion on this subject at the present time was necessarily severely limited by the fact that the matter was before the courts and was to be brought to trial. The action was at the suit of the Crown, proceeding in the name of the Attorney-General, against the Trustees of the British Museum, to have these gold ornaments declared to be treasure trove, and, therefore, the property of the Crown, the object being, if that declaration was obtained, to restore these ornaments to Dublin. The only question raised by the hon. Baronet was whether, under these circumstances, the Crown was justified in defraying the expenses of the Trustees in defending the action, and how far that principle was to be carried. He could hardly he expected to lay down a general rule. Questions of this kind, happily, rarely arose, and they must be judged on their merits as they arose. The present case was a very peculiar one, in fact, he believed that such a case had 523 never before arisen in the whole history of our National Collections. As a general rule, there was the most cordial co-operation on the part of the Trustees of the British Museum, and the Trustees of other national collections recognised that on many occasions, and often with considerable success, the Trustees of the British Museum had helped them to secure objects specially interesting to the particular country in which the institution was situated. In the present case the Trustees had purchased, under circumstances which had been laid fully before the House of Commons, certain gold ornaments. The question of the exact position of those ornaments was a very difficult and intricate one. The Trustees were not acting in defence of any personal action of their own, but, as a statutory authority in pursuit of what they considered to be their statutory duty, they had felt it necessary to retain these articles until the matter had been brought to trial and an authoritative decision obtained from the Courts. Under these circumstances, the Treasury thought it was a case in which, the matter being of great public interest, the costs on both sides might fairly be met out of public funds. He was sure the hon. Baronet would be the last person to wish to see the Trustees devoting money, which ought to be used in purchasing additions to their collections, to the carrying out of a law suit. As to whether if any other public authority understood an action the Treasury would pay the costs, each case must be decided on its merits, but it would be recognised that there was a difference between the case of a public body commencing an action on its own account, and that of a body defending an action brought against it on behalf of the Crown. This was the first case of that kind; it was a very important one, and he hoped it would soon be settled in a way which would give satisfaction to all who were anxious that these Irish ornaments should find their place in the national collection in Dublin.
§ [Mr. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.) took the Chair.]
§ (3.42.) MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said the Secretary to the Treasury had omitted to state certain circumstances which would have robbed the Trustees of 524 the British Museum of the sympathy with which he was anxious they should be regarded. The question of these gold ornaments and their custody had been discussed for many years, and the Trustees, instead of acting straightforwardly, had shifted their ground of defence from time to time. They first of all said that Ireland had no claim whatever, and then, when it was found that the First Lord of the Treasury and a great many Members were in sympathy with the Irish demand, they said they had no power to relinquish the custody of the ornaments. He then introduced a Bill to give them the power, and they thereupon again changed their ground, and one of their supporters was most active in preventing the Bill passing. The legal officers of the Crown then expressed the opinion that the Trustees had no legal right to hold the ornaments, and they once more shifted their ground and said they did not care a snap of the fingers for the law officers either in England or in Ireland. Thereupon the First Lord of the Treasury said that an action would be instituted at the instance of the Crown, and the Trustees now claimed to have their costs paid. He himself had many actions brought against him at the instance of the Crown, but he had never asked to have his costs paid for him, and if he had he would not have got them. He asked what was the exact position of this law suit, and what prospect there was of an early settlement being arrived at. These ornaments were discovered in Ireland; they belonged to Ireland; and they were twenty times more interesting to the average person in Ireland than to the average Englishman. The whole affair is an illustration of the absurdity of attempts to manage by the British House of Commons matters of a more or less trivial character in reference to Ireland.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the Solicitor General was unable to say definitely when the case would come on. He hoped it would be tried before the Long Vacation, but it was not certain that that would be possible. There was a great deal of technical evidence to be obtained and prepared, and, while the Treasury were as anxious as any one that no time should be lost, it was most important that they should have all the evidence necessary before the case come to trial.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said that while nobody would dispute that these beautiful Celtic ornaments should be largely represented in Ireland, the fact remained that Dublin already had a magnificent collection of similar ornaments—in fact, a collection which was unique. If the view of the hon. Baronet were adopted, it would open up a very awkward problem, because then the museum of each nation would consist simply of articles belonging to that particular nation, and that would be a great disaster. He would be extremely sorry if none of these ornaments were exhibited in England, and whether or not they were proved to be, technically speaking, treasure trove, and it would be a misfortune if any action on the part of the Government brought about that result.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
could not agree with the suggestion that there should be official residences attached to the museum in Ireland. He was entirely opposed to the principle. Not the least valuable recommendation of the late museum Committee was that the official residences attached to the South Kensington Museum should be abolished. Such buildings were a source of great danger from fire to the priceless collections contained in these institutions. No doubt the British Museum was a good old-fashioned solid building, and the danger there was much less, but it would be unfortunate if any sanction were given to the extension of that bad system. The principle of not surrendering the unexpended balances was an excellent one. It was absurd that the Trustees should be obliged to spend the money simply because if they did not spend it in that particular year they would lose it.
(3.56.) MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)
said there were two different questions at issue—one the conduct of the authorities of the British Museum, and the other the wider and more important question of whether any of these ornaments were to remain in London or the whole of them be sent to Dublin. In 526 the British Museum there was a collection of gold ornaments of all countries, and it was most important that Irish ornaments should take their proper place in that collection. Persons came to the British Museum from all quarters of the earth to study and compare the handiwork of different nations, and it would be a great misfortune if Ireland were not properly represented in that collection, as it would probably give foreigners a low opinion of Irish handiwork. The general argument of the hon. Baronet would carry him further, for if these Irish gold ornaments should, for the reasons stated, be transferred to Dublin, all the other Irish articles in the British Museum should also be sent there. These particular gold ornaments were, he believed, unique, and he understood that there was a serious question as to whether they were Irish at all. A strong argument had been put forward and maintained on high authority that they were only Irish because an Irish king acquired them in a raid upon England. If it was a case of spoiling the Saxon they were not Irish at all, and, if that was so, he thought London had a certain claim to reparation. He confessed that with regard to the conduct of the British Museum Trustees in relation to these ornaments, he could not see that hon. Members opposite had any special grievance. It was known in Ireland that they could be bought, and, after an interval of about a couple of years, they were purchased for £600 by the Trustees of the British Museum and placed in the Museum. He thought the fact was that the British Museum authorities bought the ornaments before Irishmen found out that there was any special and unique value to be put upon them. In connection with this matter a question of "treasure trove" came forward, and that would be decided in the courts of law. The Museum Trustees had been attacked for not accepting the opinions of the law officers, but these opinions depended upon certain matters of fact which were in dispute. It was stated that the ornaments were treasure-trove articles, but that was challenged. The facts would have to be gone into in court, and until judgment had been given in the case it was not possible to express an opinion upon that matter.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that he would not deal with the sentimental side of the question, because that had been fully stated by hon. Members from Ireland. Nor would he follow the hon. Member for the Partick Division into the interesting historical problem where the ornaments came from. If they were not of Irish make, and if there was nothing in the style and manner of design to indicate Irish origin, he should have thought that they were more likely to have been captured in the raids which were sometimes made by the Irish naval forces on the coasts of Gaul. It was extremely likely that if they were not of Irish origin they were Scandinavian-rat her than English. The point he wished to refer to was the relative value of having historical antiquities of this kind placed in the British Museum or in a museum in Ireland. He did not understand that hon. Members from Ireland argued that the other gold ornaments in the British Museum should necessarily be carried across to Ireland. He did not think that it would be their interest to take that view of the case. Every patriotic Irishman would desire that in a great collection like that of the British Museum ancient Irish art should be worthily represented. The question was whether these articles should find their place in London or in Dublin. The Committee of course knew that no branch of knowledge had in recent years made more progress than that of prehistoric archaeology, and that there was no branch of ancient art pursued with more zeal and by which more had been done, than the elucidation of history and of ancient civilisation through historic monuments which had come down to us. Anyone who specialised in these matters desired above all things that he should have the largest possible number of specimens of the same art and work brought together in the same place. Therefore archaeologists from Germany, France, or Italy who came to the United Kingdom for the purpose of pursuing studies in ancient Irish art, would very much prefer to have the largest accumulation in Dublin. The investigator would do far more in the interest of science and history by having those ornaments placed in Dublin, where they could be compared with other ornaments of the same kind. In the interest of 528 archæological science, he ventured to submit to the Committee that it was a not unimportant consideration that these ornaments would be better placed in Dublin than in London.
§ (4.10.) LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said the logical conclusion to be drawn from what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen was that all Irish ornaments, not only in the British Museum but elsewhere, should be added to those in Dublin.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said the conclusion he came to from the right hon. Gentleman's speech was that they would be more useful for scientific research in Dublin. The question of the origin of these ornaments was really outside the scope of the present discussion. One of the most competent archæologists in the British Isles had pointed out that the only analogous type known in this country was discovered within ten miles of the City of London. He understood that the question now before the law courts would be settled in a short time. The trustees of the British Museum had been very much blamed for their action in this matter, but he had no sympathy with those who complained. They found that these things were offered for sale in the open market by a dealer. The trustees of the Museum bought them at a price which was not excessive. He ventured to say that if the Museum had not succeeded in capturing these things at that moment they would have gone to people who are on the outlook for such articles in Berlin or Copenhagen, or possibly to private collectors in Paris and elsewhere who would have been delighted to get them. His opinion was that the Museum authorities had at any rate saved these things for the British Isles. Whether they were to be retained in the British Museum, or sent to the museum at Dublin, was a question which he supposed the law courts would settle 529 before Christmas. He hoped that what had happened in this case would open the eyes of the authorities in Ireland to the fact that it was necessary to be very prompt when antiquities were offered for sale in the market. Before the British Museum bought this collection, the articles composing it had passed from hand to hand of many peasants, until they came into the possession of a dealer, and finally found their resting-place in the British Museum. At any moment during that period the Royal Irish Academy, which had correspondents of extraordinary ability all over Ireland, might have become aware of the existence of these articles, and have-had the question of their ownership tried there and then in the Irish courts. He had never concealed his opinion and hope that the collection would stay in London, but whatever the outcome might be, he trusted the Royal Irish Academy would never again allow such things to be handed about and sold before taking action for their recovery, which they were legally bound to do.
§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL (Kerry, W.)
said that an hon. Gentleman who had spoken seemed to fear that they wished to take away the whole collection to Dublin from the British Museum. They were quite willing to leave the British Museum as many of the ornaments as possible, because they were naturally interested that specimens of the ancient work and art of Ireland should be represented in London, to convey to the mind and eye of Englishmen an impression of the great advance in the rarest and most delicate arts of civilisation attained in Ireland by their ancestors, a doubt about which was sometimes expressed. The question at the present time was whether these ornaments belonged to Ireland or to England. An hon. Member had gone very far back in history to prove that they had originally been brought from England to Ireland. He hoped that that argument would not be brought before the courts. His hon. friend the Member for East Clare had been blamed for making an attack upon the trustees of the British Museum, but he had done nothing of the sort, either upon them as a body or as individuals. The trustees 530 in present charge of those articles believed they had a right to them, and the Royal Irish Academy thought they had a right to them, and the latter, when both Irish and English declared that they should go back to Ireland, believed that they had a right to insist that there should be no greater delay in sending the articles back to Ireland. This question had been raised in the House for six years, and he hoped that, as they had been informed, the matter would be settled before Christmas, and the articles sent back to Ireland. He agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Chorley in what he said as to the authorities in Ireland. Undoubtedly they had been lax in their duty, and he hoped that what the noble Lord had said in reference to their negligence would have some effect on that body, and that in future they would take more precautions in securing possession of treasure trove.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said that the Irish party and the whole of the country were deeply indebted to the hon. Members who had pressed this subject on the attention of Parliament with so much pertinacity. It might be said that this was a sentimental matter, but sentiment was an important fact in the history of a nation. He ventured to say that if these articles, which were of great beauty, were returned to Ireland, for one person who looked at them now in the British Museum there would be twenty in Dublin. It had been said that the trustees of the British Museum should not be criticised on their action in this matter, but the trustees had changed their ground in the most conspicuous and extraordinary way several times. He hoped that the Treasury would come to the assistance of the Irish authorities in respect of the law costs, as they had done in the case of the British Museum trustees. Hon. Members on both sides of the House would concur with the remarks of the noble Lord the Member for Chorley, and he trusted they would do something to quicken the authorities in Ireland to prevent articles of great national importance getting into private hands. There was a small charge for opening the reading room beyond the regular hours. He wanted to know the necessity for that. Then, was the 531 Museum insured, even for a small part of its value; or was it not competent for the Crown to do so? He saw an item for the salary of the Electrician of the British Museum. He did not grudge that gentleman his salary, but he wished they could get a loan of him for the House of Commons. There were some parts of the House where the light was so had that they could not see to read.
§ MR. SAMUEL YOUNG (Cavan, E.)
said there was no doubt as to the nationality of these ornaments. In the county of Londonderry there was not a person, from the oldest to the youngest, who did not take the most profound interest in them and who could not tell the place where they were found. They were perfectly sure they were Irish ornaments.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
, in answer to the hon. Member for Water-ford East, said that the British Museum was not insured. It was not the practice of the Government to insure any of the property of the State. They were content to be their own insurees. He hoped the Committee would now be allowed to get on with the other business.
§ (4.27.) SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
said that their complaint was not against the Trustees of the British Museum for fighting for those ornaments, but it was extremely bad business for the Treasury to encourage a great expenditure of public money in the fight. The Treasury were, in fact, to blame for the position in which the Royal Irish Academy and the British Museum found themselves. They, in Ireland, were perfectly willing to give the British Museum many Irish ornaments, but they wanted a certain number from this collection found in the county of Londonderry to complete their own collection in Dublin. All they had in Ireland of any value was their collection of gold ornaments. Everything else of value had gone abroad. Upon the point of the origin of these gold ornaments, they were Irish by nature, and one very eminent English archæologist had declared that they were "unique Irish gold ornaments." When, however, it was found that there was a chance of their going back to Ireland, the same eminent archæologist said they were not Irish gold ornaments at all. He thought the 532 Irish authorities, in regard to this business, deserved the strongest condemnation, and he hoped when the question was finally settled, steps would be taken by Parliament to make it impossible that such a thing could occur again with regard to Irish gold ornaments that might be found in the future.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
called attention to the extraordinary nature of these proceedings. Two public bodies, each kept up by public money, were entering into an expensive lawsuit. They were both advised by the law officials of the Crown, who would no doubt also be engaged in the case and receive high fees. Both the law officers of the Crown and the Treasury were agreed that these ornaments belonged to Ireland, but another public body, the Trustees of the British Museum, was going to law upon the matter, and the public would have to pay the costs of both sides. It seemed to him that the advice of the law officers of the Crown should have decided this matter, and not merely have been the prelude to an expensive lawsuit. He would like to know what the cost of the legal proceedings would be, and what fees would be received by the law officers of the Crown.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he could give no answer to either question. It was impossible to give the information for which the hon. Member asked.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
did not consider it right to enter into the question of what the law officers of the Crown received. They were employed to say what in their opinion was right or wrong. This matter was more the fault of the Secretary to the Treasury or the Secretary of State for the Home Department. They were the heads of the Departments interested—the law officers of the Crown were only subordinates. He rose particularly to ask a question with regard to certain grants in aid under this appropriation. As he understood, where unexpended balances were not surrendered there was no proper audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General—all he required was the receipt of the authority for the whole sum in regard to the grant in aid; as he had no hope 533 of obtaining the balance, all he wanted was the voucher for the total sum. Under those circumstances it was misleading to say that grants in aid were subject to the audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General. There was an exceedingly large sum for appropriations in aid running through the whole account, which, in his opinion, certainly required some audit.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said vouchers were required. What was not required was the surrender of the balance.
SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said the natural desire of the Irish Members with regard to these gold ornaments, was that they should find a home in Dublin. He appealed to the Secretary to the Treasury to use his influence to get this matter settled as quickly as possible. It had been dragging, on for years which was not surprising when the money for both these litigating authorities was being found by the taxpayers. The unanimous opinion of the law officers of the Crown being that these ornaments ought to be returned to Ireland, some arrangement whereby they could be handed over should be come to as quickly as possible.
§ MR. O'NEILL (Antrim, Mid.)
said he supported the hon. Baronet opposite in his desire to obtain possession of these ornaments for Ireland. He had always felt that this was another grievance of Ireland that these ornaments should have been taken away, and that the Irish Government did not retain possession of ornaments found in that country.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the whole proceeding with regard to these ornaments seemed to him extraordinary. The amount paid altogether for them was £600; the litigation that would ensue would cost some £5,000 or £6,000. That was a most preposterous state of things. He understood the Trustees had no objection to hand these ornaments over, except that they had paid £600 for them.
said the Government had the whip hand of the Trustees, because they could stop the supplies, and he thought the Treasury ought to say that these were ornaments which belonged to Ireland and ought to be handed over to her.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said that the Trustees were prevented by the statute of their foundation from giving up what had passed into their possession.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that when a Bill was introduced empowering the Trustees to relinquish these ornaments it was opposed by the noble Lord on behalf of the Trustees.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that disposed of the bona fides of the Trustees in the matter. Like all other Trustees, they were not allowed to give up any property, but no one would condemn them for acting on the advice of the law officers of the Crown.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
thought it was foolish to throw away so much money in litigation like this. The power one statute gave, another could take away, and it would be well if the Trustees of the British Museum consented to a Bill being passed giving them the power to hand these ornaments over. These ornaments were found in Ireland by a peasant farmer and sold by him to a dealer, and if the Irish authorities had managed these matters as they ought, these ornaments would never have crossed the Channel. The Trustees of the British Museum were right in buying them, but the opinion of the law officers of the Crown was that they belonged to Ireland, and the Treasury had consented to their being handed over. The way to avoid all friction was for the Trustees to consent to a Bill being passed to give them power to do that which they could not, at present, do.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said this controversy had occupied considerable public time, and the position at present was that two great public Departments of the State were about to enter into an enormously expensive litigation in order to decide whether the Trustees of the 535 British Museum should surrender ornaments worth £600, which the First Lord of the Treasury had declared two years previously ought to be returned to Ireland.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that the object of the action was to secure a declaration that these gold ornaments were the property of the Crown, and not of the Trustees. If the Government were successful in obtaining that declaration, the ornaments would be restored to Dublin.
§ MR. DILLON
said that, if the action were not successful, the merits of the question of their restoration to Dublin would be unaffected. The result would then be that, after this great expense in litigation, the Government would have to introduce legislation, which they might do at first. If the Government were in earnest, the threat of legislation would be enough to settle the question.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that all this loss of time and probable expenditure was the result of not taking his advice three years previously. Three or four years ago, encouraged by the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, he introduced a simple Bill of one clause, giving power to the Trustees of the British Museum to hand over these ornaments, if they chose, to the Dublin Museum. That Bill was blocked by the
§ noble Lord opposite and his friends, and the result was this waste of time, and consequent waste of money, in litigation. He supported the suggestion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone that a Bill should be passed by the Government to end this matter, and save the taxpayers this enormous expenditure.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that he could not make any promise at the moment about introducing legislation. But the very action which was now so much criticised was taken on the representations of hon. Members from Ireland. He would consult with his right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury as to whether anything could be done on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for South Tyrone and others.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said he had much sympathy with the demand of the Irish Members, but he failed to see how the Government could go any further than they had done in the matter.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
felt that he must take a division, but at the same he desired to express his appreciation of the tone of the debate.
§ (5.0.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 155; Noes, 215. (Division List No. 221.)539
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cogan, Denis J.||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Grant, Corrie|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Clean, Eugene||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Crombie, John William||Curdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Asher, Alexander||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hammond, John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Delany, William||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Austin, Sir John||Dillon, John||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Donelan, Capt. A.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Doogan, P. C.||Hope, John Deans (Fife West)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Blake, Edward||Dunn, Sir William||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Boland, John||Elibank, Master of||Hutton, Alfred E (Morley)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Emmott, Alfred||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidst'ne||Joicey, Sir James|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea|
|Burt, Thomas||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Caine, William Sproston||Ffrench, Peter||Joyce, Michael|
|Caldwell, James||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Flynn, James Christopher||Kitson, Sir James|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.|
|Carew, James Lawrence||Fuller J. M. F.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gilhooly, James||Leamy, Edmund|
|Cawley, Frederick||Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John||Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham|
|Leng, Sir John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Levy, Maurice||O'Dowd, John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Kelly, James (Roscomm'n, N.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Lloyd-George, David||O'Malley, William||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. Northants|
|Lonsdale John Brownlee||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Lundon, W.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sullivan, Donal|
|MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||O'Shee, James John||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Partington, Oswald||Tennant, Harold, John|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham||Thomas, Alfred Glamorgan, E.|
|M'Cann, James||Philipps, John Wynford||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|M'Rae, George||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thompson, Dr. E C (Mon'gh'n, N|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Tomkinson, James|
|M'Kean, John||Price, Robert John||Wallace, Robert|
|M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Rea, Russell||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Reckitt, Harold James||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Mooney, John J.||Reddy, M.||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Murphy, John||Redmond, William (Clare)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Rigg, Richard||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Newnes, Sir George||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Nolan, C. L. John P, (Galway, N.||Roche, John||Wilson, John, Durham. Mid.)|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wolff, Gastay Wilhelm|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil, William||Runciman, Walter||Wynduam-Quin, Major W. H.|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork||Russell, T. W.||Young, Samuel|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'r'ry Mid.||Schwann, Charles E.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Sir Thomas Esmonde and the Marquess of Hamilton.|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hain, Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew, Noel||Gripps, Charles Alfred||Halsey, Rt. Hn. Thomas F.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hamilton, Rt Hn L'rd G. (Midd'x|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Crossley, Sir Savile||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cust, Henry John C.||Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Helder, Augustus|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Henderson, Alexander|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Ger'ld W (Leeds||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Duke, Henry Edward||Hope, J. F. Sheffield (Br'ghts'de|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Durning-Lawrence Sir Edwin||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Honldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Bartley, George, C. T.||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Howard, J. (Midd, Tottenham|
|Beach, Rt Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Faber, George Denison (York)||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bignold, Arthur||Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (M'nc'r.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. B.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Finch, George H.||Jackson, Rt. Hn. Wm. Lawies|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Fisher, William Hayes||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Kennaway Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Brassey, Albert||Fletcher, Bight Hn. Sir Henry||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Bull, William James||Flower, Ernest||Kimber, Henry|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ.||Knowles, Lees|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Gl'sg'w||Foster, Philip S. (W'rwick, S. W.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.||Gore, Hn. GRC. Ormsby-(Salop||Lawson, John Grant|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rhyshire||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Colliding, Edward Alfred||Leveson-Gower, Fred'rick N. S.|
|Cecil Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Greene, Sir EW (B'ry S Edm'nds||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (W'rc'r||Grenfell, William Henry||Long, Rt Hn. Walter, (Bristol, S.|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'uthanipt'n||Gretton, John||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Clive, Capt. Percy A.||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th|
|Coddington, Sir William||Groves, James Grimble||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Maedona, John dimming|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gunter, Sir Robert||MacIver, David (Liverpool|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Guthrie, Walter Murray||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinbr'gh W.|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Randles, John S.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H E (Wigt'n||Rankin, Sir James||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Maxwell, W. J. H. (D'mfriessh.||Rasch, Major Frederick Carne||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Middlemore, John Throgmort'n||Reid, James (Greenock)||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Remnant, James Farquharson||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Moon, Edward Thomas Pacy||Renwick, George||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred. (M'nmthsh.||Ridley, Hon. M W. (Staly bridge||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Murray, Rt Hn. A. Grab'm (Bute||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Round, James||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Whiteley, H (Asht'n-und. Lyne|
|Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Nicol Donald Ninian||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Parker, Gilbert||Seton-Karr, Henry||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Percy, Earl||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Pilkington, Lieut-Col. Richard||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M' Taggart||Younger, William|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharpe||Stone, Sir Benjamin||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Start, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Purvis, Robert||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.15.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
expressed a little alarm at the contemplated removal by the trustees of the Museum of documents and material in their possession to Hendon. To a large number of people the British Museum was a workshop, and there students, historians, men of letters, and journalists found material for their researches, and to these such removal would probably cause considerable inconvenience. He quite appreciated how the indiscriminate accumulation by the Museum authorities had reached a point that made housing difficult, but removal should be very judiciously done. He also took occasion to renew an often-made protest against the system by which the museum, without purchase, levied contributions for their collection from publishers. Men and women who made their living by letters were as a rule a very poor body. The British Museum had the right to demand a free copy of every book—he was not sure whether it was not two or three copies—from every author or publisher. If they were compelled to buy three copies no doubt they would get a great deal of rubbish, but then they would not be in a position to extort blackmail from those who were unable to pay. He renewed 540 this protest, not with any great hope of having it attended to, but he pointed it out as one of the many absurdities in regard to the way the State treated those people.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
questioned as a matter of order whether, as the removal to Hendon could only be effected after legislation, the subject could be discussed in Committee of Supply.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said he had carefully considered that point before he addressed the Committee, and he thought it would be found that, as this Vote dealt with the salaries and wages of the British Museum authorities, it was quite in order to discuss their policy.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I think it would be out of order to discuss anything which requires legislation, but as a matter of administration I think the discussion is in order.
§ MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
desired to offer a few remarks from the point of view of economy, because he thought they were all interested in that at the present time. He found that the amount of money which would have to be spent at Hendon, in connection with the removal of these newspapers was 541 £18,000. If a person went to the British Museum and asked to see a newspaper it Mould have to be brought from Hendon, and the reader could not see it until the following day. That would cause a considerable amount of expense to the public not only with regard to carriage but labour as well, and he thought the question ought to be considered whether or not it was necessary that this expense should be incurred at the present time. He understood that since 1895 the British Museum authorities had purchased all the houses and gardens on the east, north, and west sides of the British Museum, and that when the leases fell in, as they would very soon, the British Museum authorities would have no less than thirteen acres of land at their disposal, in the midst of which the British Museum stood. Would it not therefore be wiser, instead of removing these newspapers to Hendon, and incurring the expense of, £18,000, to wait until the leases fell in and then see if some arrangement could not be made by which the newspapers would be still kept at the Museum.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It is with much reluctance that the Treasury have consented to the removal of these volumes to Hendon. We resisted this proposal at first, but the trustees of the British Museum satisfied us that the present buildings were extremely crowded, and that it was very uneconomical to use so much space as was required for this purpose on a, very expensive and valuable site like Bloomsbury especially when it is remembered that the kind of objects which it is proposed to put at Hendon are things very rarely required, and the removal of which, it is believed, will cause very little inconvenience to the public. I quite agree that anything which is in at all frequent demand by readers and the public must be kept in Bloomsbury, and housed in the parent institution, but the objects which it is proposed to transfer to Hendon are back-files of provincial newspapers, and it is extremely rare that any of these newspapers are asked for. Only matters of that kind, which are very rarely needed, will be transferred to Hendon, and we have required a pledge from the trustees that they will use such powers as they possess to destroy such matter as has no interest now, and which can have no 542 interest in the future. Among the printed matter are copies of every Christmas card published; and, I think, when space is so valuable, Christmas cards, however interesting they might be, are not worthy of preservation with every other production of a prolific Press. I do not think we need keep a copy of every item of printed matter which is produced in this nation. I can assure the Committee that the trustees themselves and the Treasury would view with the greatest jealousy anything which lessened the convenience of the public who use the great collection at the British Museum. Only such things will be transferred to Hendon as can be removed without inconvenience, and I would venture to remind the Committee that this transfer can only be made by legislation, with the authority of the House; and I think it would be more convenient that the details should be reserved, as regards the collection to be transferred, until the Bill sanctioning the policy of the transfer is before the House. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool raised another question, which, I think, he will scarcely expect me to go into. I cannot undertake to enter into the discussion of the treatment men of literary ability receive at the hands of the British Museum authorities, and that is a task from which I confess I should shrink. I do not think, whatever may be our feelings in this matter, that we can expect the authorities of the British Museum to give up the light they have had from their very foundation, which is a Parliamentary one, to require free copies of books. At anyrate, legislation would be required to make any change in regard to this matter, and as any proposal of tin's kind would be a very controversial matter, it would have very little chance of passing this year.
(5.30.) SIR WALTER FOSTER
said a great many other things might be removed to Hendon with less public inconvenience than newspapers, which were frequently required for reference, and sometimes very speedy reference. If those desirous of making references had to wait twenty-four hours while huge volumes were being brought from Hendon to London, an amount of inconvenience Mould be caused which he 543 thought the public would resent. He had had occasion to refer to provincial newspapers in order to ascertain the accurate record of speeches made in the country by Members of this House, and twenty-four or thirty-six hours delay might have caused considerable inconvenience. The time might come when the speeches of the hon. Member opposite, recorded in the provincial press, might be objects of interest to Members on this side of the House and to others. That kind of historical research had been more or less indulged in by Members on both sides of the House and it might be indulged in with advantage in future, but if the newspapers were housed at Hendon, the inquiry would be considerably delayed. They were voting a considerable sum of money for the purpose of providing a depôt at Hendon, but the trustees of the British Museum had obtained possession of an area, nearly thirteen acres in extent, adjoining the present buildings, on which there would be ample room to house the newspapers for many years to come. It seemed to him a strange policy to spend a large sum on building premises at Hendon as a storage place for newspapers, which, if they were to be of value for reference, should be in a place where they could be consulted as quickly as possible.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The need of space is urgent at the present time, and the trustees cannot wait.
SIR WALTER FOSTER
said they could send out to Hendon some of the Christmas cards and other things to which reference had been made, so that there might be space for the newspapers.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said his hon. friend on the Treasury Bench had referred to a Bill which was brought forward two years ago with the object of transferring to the provinces the newspapers which had collected at the British Museum. That was not regarded with favour by the House. Did not what the hon Gentleman said convey the idea that the Bill was brought in on the initiative of the trustees of the British Museum?
§ LORD BALCARRES
said his hon. friend was not responsible for the policy of the Treasury then. But he had a very great complaint against the Treasury because it intercepted £8,000, which was at present obtained as rent for the land adjoining the present museum.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said the amount was appropriated as a grant in aid. The museum authorities wished to obtain authority to build on that ground, but the Treasury said, "You must bring in a Bill and obtain for yourself the right to remove the newspapers." Of course the Bill did not commend itself to the House of Commons, and in defeating the Bill they defeated, not the trustees of the British Museum, but the Treasury. The trustees had been represented as desiring to get rid of the newspapers, but they desired to do nothing of the kind.
§ MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
said he understood that an Act of Parliament was necessary before the newspapers could be transferred. There was on the Estimates a sum of £3,000, which was to be devoted to the purpose' of providing a building for the storage of the newspapers at Hendon. That was really putting the cart before the horse. Why should they provide a place to receive the papers before they had an Act of Parliament authorising their transfer? Would anything appear on the Estimates next year for the building in course of erection? He presumed that ultimately the cost of maintaining the building would come under the British Museum Vote.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said there was a sum of money taken in another Vote to carry out a policy which required the approval of Parliament by legislation. That legislation was now in another place, and would in due course come down here. All he wished to ask the Committee was that they should discuss the matter of the policy of the legislation on the Bill itself rather than on the Vote for the 545 money, Hon. Members would understand that in framing the Estimates the Treasury had proceeded on the assumption that the Bill would eventually pass.
MR. AUSTEN GHAMBERLAIN
The ultimate cost of the land or bindings will never fall on this Vote, but any staff which is required will, of course, be provided by this Vote.
§ (5.45.) MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield Hallam)
said that provision should be made for the preservation of provincial newspapers, and rendering them easy of access for reference, as many of them were better than the London Press. Could not the freehold property acquired some time ago adjacent to the Museum be utilised in the near future for the display of the extremely fine collection of sepulchral and monumental sculptures, highly praised by the late Sir Charles Newton, at present stored in cellars where they could not be seen to advantage. When these came to be properly staged it was obvious that they would require a great deal of space, and, of course, it stood to reason that some distinction should be drawn between the things which we could afford to store at what might be called the Bloomsbury rate and the Hendon rate.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
said that twelve months ago he wanted to ascertain certain facts which could only be found in South African newspapers. He went to the British Museum, and was told that the South African papers which he wanted were not kept in the Museum. He made an unsuccessful quest all over London for the papers, but was told that the papers had been regularly sent to the British Museum. He again went to the Museum, and was informed that the papers were not there. He asked that a search might be made, and the result was that the papers were found in a cellar where they had been lying for years, but had not been catalogued on account of the expense, nor had they been bound. It appeared that the 546 Museum authorities had funds formerly granted to them for binding these newspapers, but for twelve years comprising the most interesting part of the history of the South African colonies and republics, there was no money for cataloguing or binding these records. That was an instance of incredible meanness on the part of the Treasury. The removal of these papers to Hendon would be a great inconvenience. It might be interesting to state that during those twelve years not a single member of the British public had asked to consult a single paper from South Africa in the British Museum. He asked the Secretary to the Treasury to give a pledge that those valuable papers should be catalogued.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
thought it was quite clear that there must be some system of selection in regard to the preservation or destruction of the vast mass of papers and materials—including Christmas cards—which the British Museum was not only entitled to receive but required to accept under the Copyright Act. The purpose of the collections in the British Museum was to afford an opportunity for reference when such a necessity occurred, and that ought to be provided for. That necessity had been foreseen; for eight years £200,000 had been provided for acquiring the buildings adjacent to the Museum. He understood the Secretary to the Treasury to say that the removal of the newspapers to Hendon had been done at the insistence of the British Museum authorities, and that the Treasury had resisted it as long as they could.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he did not think there was any difference between the Trustees and the Treasury on this matter. The Treasury had objected to the housing of very bulky articles on an expensive piece of land in Bloomsbury when they thought they could be quite as well housed on a less expensive piece of land at Hendon.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that the hon. Gentleman's remarks had certainly suggested to his mind that the Treasury had resisted the desire of the Museum 547 authorities to remove some of the papers to Hendon. He granted that there must necessarily be authority to decide what papers were to be kept and what destroyed, and what not destroyed should be kept in the Museum and what elsewhere. But who was to exercise the choice between Bloomsbury and Hendon? It appeared to him that it was not the Museum authorities but rather the Treasury which had exercised that choice, although the Trustees alone had the knowledge and the responsibility. If the Trustees desired to fill the space available in the Museum with some of these newspapers, the Treasury might for once allow them to have the decision of the matter.
§ MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said that the question of stimulating the Treasury to support the British Museum was a hardy annual. He remembered it twenty years ago. There was no doubt that there were vast numbers of treasures which would never be shown until a large and comprehensive annexe was built to the museum. On the other hand, many of these treasures were not required in the British Museum, it was quite time that some careful inquiry should be made with the view of distributing some of these treasures among the various museums and art schools in England, Ireland and Scotland. There was one particular department or the greatest possible importance to British art and trade which had never been properly displayed in the British Museum. If anyone went into a print-seller's shop in London he would find that 80 per cent. of the specimens of engraving and colour printing were the work of French, Italian, and German artists. In colour printing especially Germany and America were getting ahead of us. In Dresden, Florence, New York or Chicago, the prints and the specimens of colour work were not kept in portfolios, as in the British Museum, only to be extracted after a long process, but carefully framed and hung in situations where students could sit down and study or copy them. He knew of a case of a young student who came up to London to see a Rembrandt print. It took him four days to go through all the formalities before he 548 could get into the British Museum in order to view this particular print, and then he was not allowed to sit down and study it by himself. An official stood over him all the time. If they went to the great schools of art on the Continent they would see specimens of the very best work, which were immediately at the disposal of any student who wished to study them. The difficulties to be overcome before one could see specimens at the British Museum were almost insurmountable, and unless they were able to go abroad to see examples and get the materials necessary to complete their training, engravers could not learn their business. The result was that this large and important business of decorative art was leaving the country, simply because the stores of material in our museums were not available for the student. If the authorities took these things to Hendon, and had a building big enough, and placed these specimens in flat cases, such as he had seen in Dresden, he thought great good would result. There, when any specimen was required, it was brought out and laid in a glazed frame which lay flat upon the table, so that all the detail could be perfectly seen. He had collected modern engravings for many years, but he had no hesitation in saying that nine-tenths of his best engravings were French, German and American. All this large and important industry had gone from us, but we should very soon get it back if only facilities were given for the training of the students. What was wanted was to find what there was hidden out of sight in the Museum, and when found make it accessible to the students in a practical and effective manner.
§ (6.6.) MR. BARTLEY
said that anyone who had had to do with the establishment of museums knew that the great difficulty to be dealt with was the rapid accumulation of specimens and the disposal of them. Everybody would admit that the time had come to distribute the treasures now hidden in the British Museum. It was impossible for all the books and newspapers to be kept together in one place. A few years ago steps were taken to obtain this large site at Hendon, which would be of enormous advantage, but 549 when it was obtained it would be far too valuable to fill up with provincial newspapers. He thought the movement, however, was a good one on the part of the Museum authorities, and hoped it would extend. Other sections of the Museum should be extended. He thought Bloomsbury, the most valuable and central site, was the place where the, most valuable objects ought to be kept, but it was obvious that, owing to the growth of printing and of decorative art, every thing could not be contained there. There were a number of things buried there which ought to be exhibited, and, in his opinion, there should be a careful weeding out of the specimens, which could then be distributed to different parts. He should be sorry to say that Christmas cards, for instance, were of no use, because, in years to come, they would form part of our history, so that the only thing to do was to sub-divide the Museum in some way. He congratulated the Treasury on at last having come to the decision to allow this grant for this extension at Hendon. It was a step in the right direction, and he hoped it would be extended to other collections of the Museum.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
thought there should be attendants in the building to point out and explain the treasures in the building. A great many people went to look at the Museum, but no steps were taken to indicate special objects of great interest which the visitors probably had no knowledge of. He thought this field of education should be made use of by the appointment of certain persons who should go through the Museum with parties and with schools and others, to point out objects of interest. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would call the attention of the authorities to the desirability of appointing some attendants to act in this manner.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
cordially agreed with the suggestion that the Museum should be subdivided, and advocated that such parts as were of most interest to a particular district should be sent to that district. He suggested that a National Museum 550 should be established in the Principality of Wales, such as had been established in Scotland and Ireland, and which were kept up by annual grants. He pointed out that there were many objects of Art which would be much more at home in Wales than in the British Museum. For instance, of the books and newspapers that it was proposed to send to Hendon, he ventured to think those which related to and were of advantage to Wales should be sent to Wales, where they could be preserved, and in course of time become part of the national history. The justice of the claim for a National museum for Wales had never been disputed, and he ventured to press on the hon. Gentleman, when the question of the relief of the British Museum was being discussed, that he would turn his attention to Wales, and, by so doing, not only relieve the British Museum, but give to Wales an institution she had long desired to have. He also suggested that, as there were in the British Museum exhibitions of various kinds of particular periods in the life of the nation, there should be an exhibition of articles relating to the Principality of Wales. Such an exhibition would, he believed, cause a large influx of visitors.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that he thought the suggestion of sending the Welsh papers to Wales was a most excellent suggestion, but this was most delicate ground for him to tread upon, because before he held his present office he supported a Bill having for one of its objects the distribution of papers in this way, which had not met with any favour. With regard to the amount set apart for the British Museum, the noble Lord, if he looked at the appropriation, would see that it exceeded by over £1,000 the amount of last year. With regard to the distribution of newspapers of a particular locality, they had no power to send those papers to the particular locality; they had no power to send them to Hendon unless power was given by the House. The whole of this Vote depended upon the passing of a legislative enactment now in another place. There appeared to be some little misapprehension as to the power exercised by the Treasury over the British Museum. 551 It was true that the Treasury was ultimately responsible for the amount of money granted, but the allocation of that amount must remain with the Trustees, and if papers and prints and other objects in which hon. Members were interested did not get the attention they deserved, it was not the fault of the Treasury, because the Treasury did not interfere with the allocation of the grant. As to the suggestion of an exhibition of articles relating to Wales, he would submit it to the Trustees; and as to having a personally conducted tour round the Museum, perhaps arrangements could be made without interfering too much with the general public.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
was unable to say. The Trustees of the British Museum had an increased grant of £1,000, and it was for them and not for him to say how that money was to be spent. He appealed to the Committee not to prolong this discussion, which had now extended over some three hours but to come to a decision upon the matter.
MR. GOGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
expressed the opinion that Hendon was the most inconvenient place which could have been found for the extension of the British Museum, and suggested that some spot at the end of the two penny tube would have been far more accessible to the public.
§ SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
, as a newspaper publisher, said he thoroughly concurred with the idea expressed that the space at the disposal of the British Museum could be much better employed than by storing up piles of old newspapers. At the same time he hoped too much money would not be spent on Hendon. So far as Scotch newspapers were concerned, he would much prefer to have them kept in Scotland. He recommended the decentralisation of the contents of the British Museum in this matter.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
asked whether it was the fact that the Trustees of the British Museum had no right at the 552 present time to send newspapers down to Scotland or elsewhere where it might be desirable that they should be sent.
§ [Mr. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.) took the Chair.]
§ 2. £7,000, to complete the sum for National Gallery.
§ (6.30.) DR. FARQUHARSON
said that every year since he had had a seat in the House he had brought up the question of the danger to national collections from fire. He heartily congratulated the First Commissioner of Works on the energetic steps he had taken in the direction of affording the necessary protection.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
pointed out that the question the hon. Member desired to refer to, should be brought up on the Buildings Vote, as the First Commissioner of Works was responsible for the care of the National Gallery in that sense.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
said he had discussed the question again and again on the present Vote without being challenged.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
thought the remarks of the hon. Member would be more appropriate on the Vote for the buildings.
§ Vote agreed to
§ 3. £2,541, to complete the sum for National Portrait Gallery.
§ MR. CHARLES SPENCER (Northamptonshire, Mid)
asked whether there was any possibility of increasing the space in the National Portrait Gallery. The pictures were so crammed already that in two or three years' time there would be no room to hang a picture at all.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
was understood to say that that was a matter which would have to be considered.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 4. £2,816, to complete the sum for Wallace Collection.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
complained of the extravagant way in which the Wallace Collection appeared to be managed. The amount for glazing and cleaning pictures, labels, fittings, postage and so on, was more for this one collection than for the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery put together. Those three galleries took only £1,800 for the purposes named, whereas the Wallace Collection asked for £2,750. The extravagant management appeared to have attracted the attention of the Comptroller and Auditor General, because in a recent Report, that official referred to the purchase of eighteen elaborate chairs at the cost of £90, for the use of visitors, and said—If the expenditure had been submitted for their (the Lords of the Treasury) previous sanction they would not have felt able to authorise the purchase of chairs for the use of visitors at £5 each.It certainly seemed that this collection was being managed in an unnecessarily extravagant manner.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked why the visitors' fees for admission on students' days were treated in this case as appropriations in aid, whereas, in the case of the National Portrait Gallery, they were paid into the Exchequer. The latter was the proper way to deal with these fees, but why should they be treated differently in the one case than in the other?
§ SIR JOHN STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)
speaking as a Trustee of the Wallace Collection, said that if the hon. Member for Halifax looked more closely into the accounts he would find that his apprehension as to the waste of money was not justified. The item for glazing did, at first sight, appear to be a large one, but it had to be remembered that an immense number of pictures contained in this collection were wholly un-glazed at this time last year, whereas the pictures in other collections were glazed one by one as they were purchased. There 554 were also expenses connected with the fitting and strengthening of frames to bear a weight much greater than that of the picture itself. As to the seats, possibly under ordinary circumstances there might have been a question about paying so much for them, but this extremely valuable collection was housed in what used to be a private dwelling, and there had been a great wish on the part of the trustees that it should be preserved, as Parliament, he thought, intended, as a monument of a great and noble house. For that reason the trustees had felt themselves justified in avoiding a very ugly feature of an ordinary gallery. If the annual cost of this gallery were compared with the capital value of the collection it contained it would be seen that the country had a very good bargain with having to pay only the amount for its upkeep as represented by this Vote.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
remarked that it was within his own personal knowledge that the trustees of this splendid collection had not only-given great time and trouble to its proper arrangement and management, but they had also devoted considerable sums out of their own means to its interests.
§ MR. GODDARD
understood that the glazing was a new feature. The amount for that particular purpose last year was £2,500, while this year it was £2,750. Were the Committee to anticipate a constant expenditure of a similar sum year by year?
§ SIR JOHN STIRLING-MAXWELL
said the expenditure would not be constant, but there would certainly have to be a considerable sum expended on this purpose. Experts now regarded it as essential that every picture should be glazed. The Trustees, therefore, proposed to glaze the whole of the collection, and the work was being proceeded with as rapidly as possible.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed" "That a sum not exceeding £5,421,862, 555 be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry grants-in-aid."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5. £37,396, to complete the sum for Scientific Investigation, etc., United Kingdom.
§ (6.45.) SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
called attention to the item of £13,000 for the international scheme of investigation of problems connected with the North Sea Fisheries. Some time ago he put a question in the House upon this matter, and the answer he received was that pending the expenditure of this very considerable sum no steps were intended to be taken to deal with the undoubted process of depletion which was going on in connection with the North Sea fisheries. He had often heard charges made against the trawlers that they pursued their fishing in a manner which was destructive of the fisheries, but he believed that the whole of the trawling interest was most anxious that the question should be dealt with, and this view was confirmed and approved by the Reports of two recent Committees which sat upon this subject, and which found not only that the depletion of the fisheries was going on but also that it might be remedied. But instead of taking any steps to remedy this the Government had abandoned a Bill which was introduced to deal with the fisheries, and they had now referred the matter for scientific investigation not only to bodies in our own country but to a Scientific International Commission, which seemed to him likely, not only to spend a large amount of money, but what was more important a very large amount of time, probably some years, in investigating a matter which might be said to be due to causes which were well known and which might easily be remedied. He thought this international procedure, so far from being advantageous, would delay steps which ought to be 556 taken in the interests of fishermen. Those steps had been taken by other countries not nearly so maritime in character, and they had been found to be beneficial. He thought the time had come when this country should take its own course and deal with what was not only a danger to their maritime interests and to the food of the people, but also to the manning of the Navy which was very much connected with this question of fisheries. He would be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote would tell them what was proposed to be done in the matter, what length of time was likely to be devoted to it and whether they might expect some steps to be taken on such lines as were proposed in the Bill introduced to deal with this question and which was afterwards withdrawn.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
denied that there was any depletion of the North Sea Fisheries going on, and said that, on the contrary, the amount of fish caught there was increasing.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that did not matter, for if the amount of fish being caught was larger, instead of there being a depletion of the fisheries, it was a proof to the contrary, and it was a proof that there were plenty of fish to be caught. His hon. friend had gone out of his way to make an indirect attack upon him for the successful resistance he had given for six years to what was called the immature and undersized fish Bill. Perhaps his hon. friend, would remember that the immediate cause of the abandonment of that miserable undersized fish Bill was that a Committee reported against it. That Committee reported a series of very important facts which were totally unknown before. They knew so little about the habits and movements of the fish of the sea that it was a most dangerous thing to venture upon legislation dealing with this question, and the Committee to which he had referred finally sealed the fate of the Undersized Fish Bill. Very little indeed was known about the habits of sea fish. 557 Take sprats, for instance. In his own little fishing place they kept a number of vessels to go out to sea to catch sprats, and no human being could tell whether the sprats would come on that coast or not. The present need was that they should get further information. It was a disgrace to this country that whilst America spent £50,000, £60,000, or £70,000 collecting information and circulating it amongst the fishermen, and utilising it in public Departments when they could to legislate on this subject, in England practically nothing was done in this direction. Our great need was the collection of facts and the ascertainment of the actual conditions which regulated not only the size of the fish but their habits and movements. He rejoiced, therefore, that the Government had made some departure in this direction, though it was not creditable to this country that it could not institute a proper system of investigation of its own independently of other nations. His own opinion was that they ought to have devoted a considerable sum of money to the establishment of a proper system of inquiry of their own, not merely in the North sea but also round the coast of Ireland and other places. They ought not to have waited until this inquiry was suggested by foreign nations, for they ought to have instituted a proper system of their own like the United States had done instead of being taken in tow by some foreign nations bordering on the North Sea who were making investigations which would be conducted largely in their own interests. Upon this matter he was a strong advocate for scientific investigation. They must not go on imposing restrictions until they thoroughly understood the conditions under which they were legislating. At the present time they knew very little about this matter, and they could not deal with it with any security until they knew the facts. Although he welcomed this small attempt to deal with the question, he regretted that it was not being undertaken by this country alone independently of foreign countries, and he urged His Majesty's Government to consider most seriously whether it would not be wise for them to set up a proper inquiry for themselves.
§ (7.0.) MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said he did not in the least understand the argument of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, who seemed to be entirely unacquainted with the circumstances under which fishing was pursued in the North Sea. The Government had done well in consulting foreign Governments in this matter. Foreign Powers came so closely in touch with us in the North Sea, and all over the coasts of the Highlands and islands of Scotland, that it was of the utmost importance that we should work hand-in-hand with them in the scientific investigation of questions affecting the fishing industry, and in dealing with the laws and regulations in regard to trawlers. The powers of reproduction of fish were limited, and it was the duty of the Government to give the hard-working fisherman protection against the depredations of what was known as the steam trawlers, which were, to a great extent, depleting the shores of Scotland and Ireland of fish. It was quite true that enormous quantities of fish were, year by year, brought to our markets by the steam trawlers, but it should not be forgotten that hundreds of steam trawlers were almost daily breaking the law by poaching on the Scotch shores, and interfering with the industry of the hard-working fishermen who fish in open boats. They only wanted the law to be carried out, but Gentleman on the Treasury Bench knew that it was being systematically evaded. He had no intention of giving a hostile vote, because what was now proposed, so far as it went, was in the right direction. It was only last year that the Irish Members got the House to pass a Bill dealing with the question of trawling. The fishermen of Scotland were suffering from the want of a Trawling Bill, and as the Scotch assisted the Irish to get their Measure last year, he sincerely hoped that when the opportunity came the Irish Members would assist in getting an equally strict Measure passed for Scotland, so that trawlers might be kept in their proper place, and obliged to conduct their operations within the strict limits of the law.
§ MR. LAYLAND-BARRATT (Devon shire, Torquay)
said he represented one of the largest trawling ports in 559 England, and despite the sneers of hon. Members who knew nothing of the trawlers in the North Sea, the English Channel, or the Bristol Channel, he could state that these men carried on their work undermost difficult conditions, and that they included some of the finest sailors who were to be found anywhere. If it were necessary to call out the Naval Reserve to help in the case of a naval war he thought the trawlers would provide some of the ablest seamen. With regard to the investigations in the North Sea, he hoped the President of the Board of Trade would be able to explain to the House the reason why his Department had lent support to the plan which was to be carried out. He understood that some practical as well as scientific men did not believe that the method of inquiry proposed to be adopted would really provide the information that was desired. He hoped the "President of the Board of Trade would be able to give some information to the Committee as to what I was being done in regard to the North Sea investigation. He thought that if the Board of Trade, by a system of small grants, would encourage the captains of trawlers to obtain and provide particulars of the times and places where fish were found, much more information would be obtained than by fitting out one or two special vessels.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said he represented one of the oldest fisheries on the Kent coast where there was more business done with sailing smacks than at almost any other port in the Kingdom. His constituents connected with the fishing industry signed a petition against the Bill to which reference had been made. The Bill was referred to a Select Committee largely in its favour, but on hearing evidence they recommended the House not to proceed with it. No Government in the face of a report of that kind would have been justified in wasting the time of the House in proceeding with the Bill. He thought the Government were perfectly right to approach this subject from the standpoint of international conference. The Government deserved the support of the Committee in the line they had taken, namely, in declining to fly in the face of a Committee of the House.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
I wish to explain in a few words the reasons which actuated the Government in approaching this particular aspect of fishery research. What is known as the Undersized Fish Bill has been referred to by several speakers who have preceded me. The Committee knows that the Bill was referred to a Select Committee, who reported that it was not desirable to proceed with the Bill in the absence of further information. The Committee was a strong one, and was presided over by my right hon. friend the present Home Secretary, who is himself responsible for the Bill in question. I think the Members of the Committee when they entered upon the investigation were wholly predisposed to taking up the Bill, but notwithstanding that, the conclusion they came to was as I have stated. That Committee also made two important recommendations. While recommending that the Bill should not be proceeded with in the present state of information, they added that—In their view no effort ought to be spared, (first) to arrange for international treatment of the subject generally, and especially for the regulation of the North Sea area; and (second) to provide for the adequate equipment of the Government Departments in charge of the subject, so that they may effectively pursue scientific investigation, and ascertain with sufficiency and precision what has been done either in the way of scientific research, or in the matter of practical legislation by other inquirers and other countries, with a view to determining whether, and if so what, legislation may be desirable.Now, the Government after that Report was issued naturally came to the conclusion that it would be useless to introduce the Bill again, until something had been done towards carrying out these two important recommendations. We have tried to carry out both, and the reason why this sum of money is now asked for is that we may not destroy the prospects of that international co-operation on which the Committee, I think, rightly laid so much stress. I do not pretend to say, not being an expert in fishing matters, whether the programme sketched out at the Christiania Congress is absolutely the best that could be devised. That was not the problem before the Government. The problem before the Government was, if we 561 declined to take our share in that investigation what prospect there would be of securing international co-operation, without which we thought no progress could be made in the matter. I do not think we could have decided in any other sense. It is quite true, as the hon. Member opposite has said, that there is considerable difference of opinion on this subject among experts in ichthyological matters, and a great deal of strong language has been bandied about on both sides. In asking Parliament to vote this money the Government does not commit itself to the proposition that this is positively the best means of carrying out research in fishery matters, and, further, I may also remind the Committee that this is a temporary arrangement, which is to last for three or five years, as the case may be. Meanwhile, we have not lost sight of the necessity, on which the hon. Member for King's Lynn laid very proper stress, of inquiring in what manner we can carry on fishery research in a more permanent way on our own account. A Committee has been appointed to inquire how this can best be done, and I hope that in future years some more systematic and methodical scheme of ichthyological research may be devised.
§ (7.16.) MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that he happened to be a member of the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had referred. He quite agreed that the Bill had necessarily to be dropped, and also that this Vote was to some extent carrying out the recommendations of the Committee. He could not help reflecting, however, when he found this proposal to spend such a large amount of money on scientific research, that a much more moderate sum might be spent in obtaining practical results on the west coast of Ireland by inquiries from the fishermen there. He knew that the fishermen were hampered in their industry because the very small sum of money for the repair of their harbours was refused, and it was hard, therefore, to consent to this Vote. The First Lord of the Treasury knew the West of Ireland and the conditions of the fishing population there, and the great 562 benefit it would be, if a small sum—of course, nothing like this Vote—were granted for providing and repairing harbours on the west coast of Ireland. The present Chief Secretary had also gone to the West of Ireland and had seen the lamentable conditions under which the fishermen there carried on their industry; and he asked the Government and the President of the Board of Trade to seriously consider the position. When he was asked by his constituents, with reference to this Vote, he was obliged to tell them in the same breath that it was impossible to get the Committee of this House to vote even £5,000 to improve the position they were in. An hon. Gentleman on the other side had said that they in Ireland got everything they wanted, but that was not true. He was not going to move a reduction of the Vote himself, as he was on the Committee and believed that the money would be well spent.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that the hon. Gentleman would recognise that a Vote for scientific research could not be made use of for the repair of harbours in Ireland. He would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Chief Secretary for Ireland had had this question of improved harbour accommodation on the coasts of Ireland under his careful consideration for some time, and that there had been a good deal of communication between the Irish Government and the Treasury.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was very much obliged to the Secretary to the Treasury. He perfectly understood that this money could not be used in that way, but there was no reason why the Government should not come down and ask for a Vote for the benefit of the harbours on the west coast of Ireland. In his constituency a Liverpool firm, that had been doing business on the west coast, employing 300 people, and distributing wages to the extent of £25,000 a year, had been obliged to close their works on account of the miserable condition of certain harbours there.
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
said that, as a representative of a fishing port, he hoped the scientific investigations would be extended to other seas (such as the English Channel) than the North Sea. It was very desirable to guard the interests of the fishermen in the Channel, who very often suffered great loss through the destruction of their nets. He hoped his right hon. friend would consider whether a gunboat might not be sent to protect them against the infliction of such injury.
§ MR. LAYLAND-BARRATT
asked if he was right in understanding the statement of the President of the Board of Trade to mean that the decision of the Government to take part in International Investigations in connection with the North Sea Fisheries would not in any way affect the position or proceedings of the Ichthyological Committee, and would not in any way limit the Government's freedom of action in dealing with any recommendations which that Committee might make.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £78,706, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for Grants-in-Aid of the Expenses of certain Universities and Colleges in Great Britain, and of the Expenses under The Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889."
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea, District)
said he begged to move the reduction of this vote by the sum of £1,700. He explained that he did not do so because he had any objection to the University Colleges, but to call attention to the very exceptional treatment afforded to one college, viz., King's College. London. Being a London graduate himself, he desired not to be misunderstood in regard to his attitude towards this great institution, King's College. He knew, from his own personal knowledge, how well 564 equipped a college it was and what admirable work it had done in the past. But he felt bound to express a considerable body of opinion in the country, and amongst the graduates in London, against the vote of £1,700 to King's College until they had altered their constitution. They objected, in the first place, because it was frankly a denominational Church of England college; secondly, because they could sec no sound reason for the exceptional treatment accorded to it; and, thirdly, because the resisting restrictions under the Act of 1882 in regard to the appointment of officers and professors tended to impair the educational efficiency of the institution. This matter had not been raised for the first time. About the year 1896, when the New Treasury Minute was being prepared allocating grants to colleges, Mr. Carvel Williams brought the matter before the House, and in a very temperate speech explained the restrictions on the appointment of officers and professors; and although no division was taken the discussion was taken part in by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Islington, himself a distinguished graduate of the college, who agreed that the existing restrictions were illusory and ought to be abolished as soon as possible. So far as he understood, nothing had yet been done to remove these restrictions. Nobody on that side of the House wished to approach this question in any narrow or bigotted spirit, but in regard to Clause 12 of the Act of 1882 they had a distinct grievance. Under that clause no new officers, no new professors, and no new teachers except, he thought, the professors of Oriental languages, could be appointed to these offices unless they were members of the Church of England. Not only was that wrong from the point of view of the educational efficiency of the college, but it imposed a very unfair stigma upon many distinguished graduates of the Univerity of London who had a right to aspire to those high positions.
It being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report progress; to sit again this evening.